Being the life long Disney fan that I am, I couldn't wait to visit Disney World. Yes, part of it was to experience all the rides they don't have at Disneyland. But another part of me wanted to see how the rides I already knew and loved compared. I must say that most of the time, the Disney World version was slightly better. An added scene or slightly different order made things better. Not so with Pirates of the Caribbean. For some unknown reason, the ride was shortened considerably, making it less than the original.
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This ride was updated in 2006 to include some characters from the movie version of this franchise. I must admit I am not completely thrilled with the changes, but they work for the most part. That is the version of the ride I will be talking about here.
The ride is located in the Adventureland section of the Magic Kingdom just past the entrance to the Jungle Cruise. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but the line can wander around quite a bit inside before reaching the boats you ride in. When I was there, I was able to walk on both times I went on this attraction.
The boats hold quite a few people. They are wide enough to accommodate 4 adults per row and contain 6 or so rows each. Only if you have a large party will you have a boat to yourself.
Once you are off, you float under a rather cool effect. Davy Jones' face is projected onto a screen of mist. As you float through it, he warns you that the waters ahead are full of danger and pirates. From there, you see a couple of skeletons and a boat fighting a bad storm before you drop down a small, six foot hill. You might get a few drops of water on you here, but not enough to complain about.
On this lower level is where the main show takes place. We wander through a town being attacked and pillaged by pirates. They start by shelling the town, then threatening the citizens and auctioning off the women before setting the whole place on fire.
Now it used to be that the pirates attacked purely for some kind of hidden treasure. But during the 2006 update, they gave the pirates another motive. In the scene where the boat is attacking the walls of the city, Captain Barbossa now stands on the ship demanding the citizens give them Captain Jack Sparrow if they want to stop the attack. As we float through the rest of the scenes, we see Jack a couple times sneaking around town trying to get his hands on the treasure. And as we are waiting to get off the boats, we see Jack sitting with his treasure.
Don't get me wrong, what is here is quite fun. The scene of the pirates shelling the city includes air and water canons to make us feel like we are part of the attack. In one of my favorite illusions, we float through the city on fire. After all the times I've been on the ride, I still get fooled by the illusion at first glimpse.
So what's wrong? Half the ride is missing. The Disneyland version includes scenes of hidden pirate treasure and pirates fighting over our heads at the end. Plus there are two bigger drops instead of just one. And when I say half the ride is missing, I do mean it. This version clocks in at 8 and a half minutes while in California, you can enjoy sailing with pirates for sixteen and a half minutes.
The one drop that the Disney World version has is very mild. It doesn't drop far and it isn't very steep. Young kids might be frightened by some of the scenes along the way, and once you are in the boat, there is no turning back. But one they are old enough to know it is all fake, they'll enjoy it, too.
Given how much I enjoy Pirates of the Caribbean normally, I was really looking forward to this ride. But the Disney World cuts out too much to give it my whole hearted recommendation. If this is your first trip through the attraction, you'll enjoy it. But if you are used to the longer rides, you probably won't.
This if the first part of two reviews for the A Little Change Makes All the Difference Write Off. The second part is my take on the ride at Disneyland.
Other Disney World Reviews:
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Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management
Stitch's Great Escape
Great Movie Ride
Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
Walt Disney: One Man's Dream
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